Join Donate

Emily LakdawallaBruce BettsDecember 5, 2013

Comet ISON live blog

Comet ISON reached perihelion at 18:25 UT (10:25 PT). It's was an event that's was watched around the world, accompanied by tons of commentary and streams of photos. We updated this blog entry periodically with links to all the resources that we hear of for following the comet's progress.

Update: Comet ISON is at least mostly dead.  Most think all that remains is a rapidly fading and dispersing cloud of dust.  For insights on what happened, check below and the links therein, and read Bruce's Comet ISON wrap up blog (A Tail of Cat-Possums and the Undead), and check out Emily's animations page that includes animations of images from many different solar observation spacecraft, as well as seeing the animations below, and check our Comets page that will list all recent Planetary Society posts on comets, ISON or otherwise.

Had enough animations yet? Here's one from the STEREO Behind spacecraft, a unique perspective on the comet rounding the Sun. I (Emily) am not sure why it's so much brighter in this view than in the SOHO ones -- I suspect that the viewing geometry makes dust much more visible than from other points of view. 

ISON rounds the Sun as seen from STEREO-B (Nov 28-29, 2013)

NASA / STEREO / Emily Lakdawalla

ISON rounds the Sun as seen from STEREO-B (Nov 28-29, 2013)
This animation contains 96 images captured by the STEREO Behind spacecraft between November 28 at 00:08 and November 29 at 08:39 UTC.

Here's a really nice video put together by Babak Tafreshi that combines the SOHO LASCO C2 and C3 images:

NASA / ESA / SOHO / Babak Tafreshi

Comet ISON Dives Toward the Sun (SOHO LASCO images)
Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) captured by the SOHO spacecraft as it dives in to the sun's corona on November 28, 2013, and in a dramatic action a fraction of the icy body returns from the hell the next day. I edited this stunning sequence of images released by SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory), leveled, enlarged and sharpened them for full HD viewing.

Here is an animation from SOHO's higher-resolution camera, showing the comet fading out as it approaches perihelion; apparently some of it survived, but it's not obvious at the moment (23:30 UT on November 28) if there is an intact nucleus. Karl Battams, going out on a limb at 02:46 on November 29, thinks it might.

ISON rounds the Sun as seen from SOHO LASCO C2 (Nov 28-29, 2013)

NASA / ESA / SOHO / Emily Lakdawalla

ISON rounds the Sun as seen from SOHO LASCO C2 (Nov 28-29, 2013)
This animation contains 88 images captured by the SOHO spacecraft from November 28 at 00:22 to November 29 at 00:13 UTC.

Here is the latest LASCO C3 animation of the departure (up to date as of Nov 28 at 06:30 UT, including data through 00:18 UT). There is one more frame from much later (05:30 UT) that I have not yet added into the animation:

ISON departs the Sun as seen from SOHO LASCO C3 (Nov 28-29, 2013)

NASA / ESA / SOHO / Emily Lakdawalla

ISON departs the Sun as seen from SOHO LASCO C3 (Nov 28-29, 2013)
This animation contains 14 images captured by the SOHO spacecraft between November 28 at 20:07 UT and November 29 at 00:18 UT.

Here is the latest LASCO C3 animation of the approach (up to date as of Nov 28 at 06:30 UT, including data through 00:18 UT):

ISON approaches the Sun as seen from SOHO LASCO C3 (Nov 28-29, 2013)

NASA / ESA / SOHO / Emily Lakdawalla

ISON approaches the Sun as seen from SOHO LASCO C3 (Nov 28-29, 2013)
This animation contains 153 images captured by the SOHO spacecraft between November 26 at 21:20 UT and November 29 at 00:18 UT.

Here is the latest STEREO-Ahead animation (up to date as of Nov 28 at 18:00 UT, including data through Nov 27 10:49 UT). This version has been aligned on the comet to show its dramatic brightening:

ISON approaches the Sun as seen from STEREO-A (Nov 21-28, 2013)

NASA / STEREO / Emily Lakdawalla

ISON approaches the Sun as seen from STEREO-A (Nov 21-28, 2013)
This animation contains 264 images captured by the STEREO Ahead spacecraft between November 20 at 14:05 and November 28 at 1:29 UTC. The two vertical lines that cross the image are pixel bleeding from two bright planets (Mercury and Earth), both out of the frame. The smaller comet that appears to cross ISON's path is Encke. As ISON gets very close to the Sun it gets so bright that it saturates the detector, blooming into vertical stripes. Those aren't real; they represent charge spilling over into adjacent pixels from the too-bright comet.

Brief summary of the comet's behavior:

Websites and twitter feeds with reliable, updated information and photos:

Press briefings, Google+ hangouts, and other live events:

Expected timeline of ISON's appearance to different spacecraft cameras (all times UT) (copied from this tweet by Karl Battams):

Here is an animation composed of data taken by the STEREO Ahead spacecraft through November 26 at 12:49 UT (4:49 PT):

NASA / STEREO / animation by Emily Lakdawalla

ISON approaches the Sun as seen from STEREO-A (Nov 21-26, 2013)
This animation is composed of 208 images captured over a period of five days from November 21 to November 26 as comet ISON approached the Sun. Also in the frame are Mercury, Earth, and comet Encke.

How close will ISON get to the Sun?  This close:

Comet ISON closest approach distance relative to the size of the Sun

NASA / Bruce Betts

Comet ISON closest approach distance relative to the size of the Sun
Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) approaches the Sun on Nov. 28, 2013 at a distance closer than one solar diameter away from the Sun's surface, as depicted in this diagram.

Need background/basics on Comet ISON?  Watch this 3 minute video:

Comet ISON: Super Bright or Super Lame?

Video by Planetary Society Director of Projects Bruce Betts providing the basics about Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) including information about visibility and its close pass by the Sun.

Read more: pretty pictures, comets, explaining science, solar observing spacecraft

You are here:
Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla (2017, alternate)
Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
Read more articles by Emily Lakdawalla

Headshot of Bruce Betts
Bruce Betts

Director of Science and Technology / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society
Read more articles by Bruce Betts

Comments & Sharing
MER
Let's Change the World

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Today

Emily Lakdwalla
The Planetary Fund

Support enables our dedicated journalists to research deeply and bring you original space exploration articles.

Donate